Readers are forgiven for thinking the title a contradiction. After all, the SNP is the party of independence. Unfortunately, just as a mule is a breed of workhorse but not a Clydesdale, saying you are utterly dedicated to regaining Scotland’s liberty is not the same as saying you will make it happen.
An unaccountable party
The SNP hierarchy has ‘acquired’ powers never given to them by voters. They choose not to fulfil their manifesto, they choose to adopt a gradualist approach to autonomy, to block candidates they feel do not respect some of their policies, to use subscriptions to save the skin of miscreant colleagues, and to smear private citizens they feel are asking awkward questions. Protests are dismissed, citizens held in contempt, addressing the electorate as ‘conspiracy theorists’. The people have become the problem.
One can choose from a long list of issues that undermine confidence of an SNP-led victory for Scotland’s rights. They add up to the view the SNP top officials feel it won’t happen in their tenure of office. Faced by an obdurate Tory party in power with an 80 majority, a party so brazenly right-wing it refuses to feed hungry children, the SNP feels free to look to other goals easier to obtain than the protection of Scotland’s citizens.
For my part, I cannot see how any informed person can vote for the SNP as presently constituted, not while it labours under its present amoral hierarchy, with an NEC that is keener on power than people. This is a party desperately out of touch with its ideals.
When you add it all up, you are left with a top layer of a very tired party hell bent on protecting it’s power and entitlement and not the people who elected it. It makes for depressing reading, but facts that should be faced.
The Gold Standard
The ‘Gold Standard’ is a slogan conjured out of thin air, nick-named with a vacuous catch-all meaning of the type we usually hear repeated endlessly by the white supremacist Tories, a catchphrase as stupefying as ‘the SNP is not Scotland’. The ‘Gold Standard’ is Nicola Sturgeon’s one-note illusory path to Palookaville.
There are many ways to regain autonomy. One is a sustained clamour for it that the international community cannot ignore. Who advised Nicola Sturgeon to buy a cheap day-return to independence and back? That she holds tight to her shibboleth as if the Ark of the Covenant, is defeatist, wildly misguided, unskillful management.
If Scotland’s rights are gutted like a herring by Westminster, her time as First Minister, her ‘Gold Standard’, her gradualism, her two-year pursuit to reverse Brexit, her entire accomplishments, and they are many, will be as nothing to her political fate.
Tomorrow and tomorrow and the excuses
Almost any excuse is good enough for the SNP not to inform the populace of impending repressive, totalitarian Tory policies, some already in motion, imposed by stealth and openly by Westminster Bill. Independence is relegated to yesteryear.
The list of cynical get-out clauses reads like an insurance company’s small print.
Here is the litany of excuses to delay moving on independence: 51% for Yes not enough; respecting the anti-democratic mantra ‘now is not the time’; waiting for withdrawal of Scotland’s major parliamentary powers to see what has been removed; waiting for Brexit to be implemented; 53% for a Yes vote not enough; waiting to see who is elected leader of the Tory party; waiting until implementation of a No Deal Brexit is signed; waiting to discover Boris’s attitude to a referendum; 55% for a Yes vote not enough; waiting to see exactly what deadheads and rejects do settled in their Edinburgh office, to govern Scotland over the head of its parliament; ignoring Tory a warning they will remove a chunk of Scotland’s Barnett Formula and – pork barrel fashion, distribute it among Tory councils; 58% for a Yes vote not enough. And tomorrow – 60% for a Yes vote probably still not enough – ad infinitum.
And all that well before the Covid-19 pandemic took over as Grim Reaper.
Counter to the myth, Nicola Sturgeon did ask Downing Street for a second referendum endorsed by the UK government, a request easily waved aside by Theresa May and by Boris Johnson, as easily as a Georgian fop would waft aside a vagrant with a single flip of his hand, handkerchief held tight over his powdered nose.
No one noticed that in asking for another plebiscite Sturgeon signalled she believes a vote can be won. Therefore, excuses given subsequently for delay are antithetical.
Non-impartial civil servants
So far, in the ignominious rush to put Salmond on trial, a third time fronted by BBC Scotland with an outrageously inflammatory documentary, the key civil servants, and significantly, Nicola Sturgeon herself, all under oath, have apologised to the Holyrood committee for statements they made now seen on hindsight as erroneous.
Each forgot, overlooked, misspoke, or didn’t check with their personal secretary, about a critically important facet of their involvement in the scandal. This is the same SNP that ejects individual supporters for a misplaced comma or an iffy sentence in an essay.
Nicola Sturgeon prides herself for having a first class legal mind, yet we are asked to accept that her customary astuteness let her down. She did not see the repercussions guaranteed to cause mayhem by endorsing insidious retroactive rules, rules composed by harpies on horseback with questionable track records in past jobs.
The civil servants were certain to be spurred on by the Calvinist righteousness of their cause, but ought to have been cautioned and curbed before they got out of the paddock.
Was Nicola Sturgeon not aware her top civil servants were chivvying witnesses, some unwilling to take part in a group assassination? Did she not survey the accusations and see how many were concocted, superficial and vexatious? If not a fine legal mind, then surely a sloppy and unprofessional attitude, contemptuous of human rights.
For an enterprising married couple to run a small commercial business, a shop, a mail order firm, a farm, one the buyer, the other the treasurer, is an everyday occurrence. For a married couple, one running a nation and the other running the party running the nation, that is highly irregular, unhealthy, and downright unethical.
We are told they never cross talk. Of course a couple will discuss the day’s events when at home. Of course they will discuss individuals they want promoted and those they feel problematic. Of course they will have a good old nag about somebody who got on their wick. Assuredly, one will support the other when criticised or attacked, or in a fix of their own making. That is marriage the world over.
That’s the loyalty we expect husband and wife to practice, especially when both are successful in their chosen vocation. Here I am discussing the vehicle for independence. Here we are assessing a nation’s future, not a wee corner shop in a village. Scotland is not Argentina (Juan and Eva Peron), or Rumania (Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu), or the United States of America (the Trump dynasty). The debate here is uncomplicated, did Peter Murrell exceed his authority, and what he admits to doing, is it illegal?
Peter Murrell ought to be automatically disqualified to chair a party of government while his wife presides over a nation’s destiny. His position is dishonourable. It places him in difficult, unpleasant, and embarrassing situations. Murrell’s real role should be to commiserate about the bad day his wife had at First Minister’s Question Time, pour her a gin and tonic, and run a bath sprinkled with scented salts to ease her stress.
You are left with the nagging question, who is running Scotland? Is it the will of the sovereign people, the Murrells, or a bunch of unscrupulous civil servants? A ‘better future’, justice, honesty, integrity and liberty, begins with the people taking us there.
Referendum fighting fund
Some years back, Edinburgh University arranged a London auction to sell off valuable artwork in their care. The collection was a bequest, given to the University to protect and exhibit, on behalf of the people of Scotland. The University authorities argued a gift is their possession. They were taken to court by concerned citizens, the auction halted with several thousands of pounds of auction catalogues printed and distributed.
The University was humiliated in court and cancelled the auction. The SNP’s missing money ear-marked, actually sold to the public by the SNP as ‘ring-fenced’ for a second referendum, does not appear on the annual accounts. The party Treasurer says it is there on the page, just not identified. He treats it like a game of ‘Where’s Wally?’.
Following the same principle as the bequest to Edinburgh University, the Referendum Fund is decidedly not the institution’s to do with as it pleases. Funds solicited for a specific purpose must remain untouched until required for that purpose.
And in the same annual accounts, a cursory glance shows up an alarming increase in the party’s legal fees. The blunders they make cost them dear. The party has been sued successfully a few times. There are two ways to view an experienced politician who advocates caution as a policy, and then insults another political party to the extent they sue for slander successfully. Is the individual inept or an opposition’s stooge denuding their party of funds? Why bail them out with party funds?
Looking at the bald financial figures made public, mysteriously delayed many times, it is obvious the SNP is in a very weak financial position to fight itself out of a paper bag. Perhaps this is a reason for a one-route only is sold to us as a sure fire delaying tactic.
Eyes Wide Shut
‘You shouldn’t brag that some of our greatest adversaries think that they’d be better off with you still in office! Of course they do! What does that say about you?!’ said Barack Obama about Donald Trump. I thought his remark apt applied to where we are now with Nicola Sturgeon as leader.
One day she is lampooned mercilessly for the brand of coffee maker she keeps in her kitchen, the next praised by the right-wing press as the saviour of Scotland facing a killer pandemic. When your most implacable enemy suddenly says you are the greatest thing since vegetarian haggis, run for cover!
I don’t care to analyse if she duplicates England’s pandemic rules and schedule, or has gone her own way. For my part, she communicates a strategy to outwit coronavirus exceptionally well, honest, uncomplicated, with a sense of urgency and responsibility her opposite number in Downing Street cannot muster. Unless discovered to have conspired in the Salmond scandal, she has a role fronting the pandemic for a while yet.
What concerns me is her lack of statesmanship and political guile at a most dangerous time in Scotland’s history. Those qualities are wholly absent. The Tories are coming, and they are not bearing gifts.
People must take the wool from their eyes; too many things are going wrong, a series of belly flops, prat falls, gaffes, policy over-sights, blaming the people, and too many scores being settled on dissenters by a party that has lost its passion and mettle. In panic, officials block debate, narrowing discussion to a few items they can control. This is the law of the mentally bankrupt. Nicola Sturgeon should step back to allow the better equipped, intellectually and strategically, to handle independence.
The Law of Averages tells us, with so many SNP politicians and members leaving the party, at least some surely think we are going backwards. They see hope crushed.
I see a tired and jaded party lost for ideas, bereft of political imagination, shooting its supporters and beating its best brains to a pulp. Just as our enemies fall back on old slogans, our own repeat the same expressions of outrage. We have heard it all before.
We need new leadership. We have need of fresh impetus. In this, the electorate is well ahead of the Scottish Government. If only eloquent, well-informed people were ready to take their place, such as Duncan Hamilton QC, we will have potential leaders in waiting.
The current top level of the SNP ought to be very worried, and if they are not, resign.
If you have eight minutes to spare, you won’t waste it watching Duncan Hamilton QC, eviscerate Old Colonial Men in a debate, demonstrating what is missing from the chamber in our Parliament: https://youtu.be/KxS3RjilBzg
FURTHER READING: ‘An SNP in Disarray’: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-ouY